How to Not Be Pushy

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If others have called you a pushy person, it’s probably because you tend to overstep others’ boundaries. You might have good intentions—maybe you want people to eat the food you make for them, maybe you want to give someone your old couch, maybe you want to spend time with a friend—but if you bulldoze people when they’re saying “no,” you’re too focused on your own agenda. Learn to recognize your own agenda, respect others’ differences and seek compromise.

Recognize Your Agendas

pushy people attempt to control other people with aggression or manipulative tactics based on their own agendas, says Dr. Bill Knaus of Psychology Today. Trying to force another person’s hand just to get what you want, whether it’s money or friendship, is selfish, says Knaus. If you don’t want to be the villain in this situation, you need to sit back and coolly assess your agenda. Maybe you want your friend to buy your couch so you don’t have to sell it on Craigslist, but if she’s already politely declined, don’t keep insisting. Recognize that what you want and what she wants don’t match up this time, and offer the couch to someone else.

Respect Others’ Boundaries

Part of choosing not to be pushy is respecting other peoples’ boundaries. When people say “no” to you, it means that they have a boundary line around that issue that you shouldn’t cross. So if a friend has already told you that she needs time to think before she commits to weekend plans, for example, allow her to have some time. If your family member says she isn’t hungry, don’t insist that she eat anyway, just because you want to get rid of your leftovers. Listen to others as they tell you what they want, and respect their decisions.

Separate Opinions From People

Just because you stop being pushy doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat who agrees with everyone and does only what everyone else wants to do. You can negotiate effectively by separating people’s opinions and positions from their personal identities, according to Forbes. Address the issue without making personal attacks, and you will come across as forthright, but not pushy.

Offer Mutual Solutions

Another way to debate with others without being pushy is to offer solutions to problems, say the writers at Forbes. It’s easy to dismiss others’ ideas, but it is much more productive to suggest a mutually beneficial solution. Try compromising with other people. For example, if your friend doesn’t want to go away for the whole weekend, suggest driving back from your trip on Sunday morning. If you can present a solution instead of stubbornly insisting that she do what you want, she’ll see you as positive instead of pushy.